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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Twentieth in a Series of Two Billion

posted by on May 15 at 10:49 AM


io9 has a good post up called “7 Reasons Why Sci-fi Book Series Outstay Their Welcomes.” It pretty well explains exactly why I’ll put a book down the minute that I see that it’s the first book in a series.

Also, in the comments, someone misspells “sequels” as “squeals.” This is unintentionally brilliant. I think “squeal” should be instantaneously adopted worldwide as the new word for “sequel.” Maybe the thought of piggish yowling would somehow save the world from the pain and heartbreak of another Spider-Man 3.

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And Star Trek totally proved the point.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | May 15, 2008 11:00 AM

Kevin j. Anderson is the whore of sci-fi writers

Posted by vooodooo84 | May 15, 2008 11:01 AM

You would be making a terrible mistake if you didn't read Perdido St. Station by China Mieville just because it is the first in a series. Ditto for John Ringo's The Legacy of the Aldenata and Ian M. Banks' Culture series.

Posted by crazycatguy | May 15, 2008 11:02 AM

Totally, Paul. Fucking "Swann's Way".

Posted by Eric F | May 15, 2008 11:21 AM

My theory is that mildly autistic or asberger's sci fi fans have a craving to permanently inhabit another world, and they want that world to be static. When the world is just there, book after book, and all the same characters are there, never changing, they feel a warmth and comfort. This is why this type of fan gets so angry when a character dies, or even develops.

The real world is uncomfortable for them because you're surrounded by people who are new, and who change, and whose inner life is inaccessible to you, especially for those who lack a fully functioning Theory of Mind. Static characters are safe and predictable, and the world these fans want to live in is one where people's inner live sand external lives are the same. As in late-period M*A*S*H, where every character had fully explored every other character's issues and there was nothing unknown between them.

For most of us, this total lack of tension is insufferable, but there is a type of person who craves nothing but serene, trusting safety and security that never ends.

Posted by elenchos | May 15, 2008 11:21 AM

I'd agree generally, but can think of a handful of examples where the sequel books were vastly superior to the original.

Take the Uplift War by David Brin. The third book in the series, it is undeniably superior to the first (Sundiver) or second (Startide Rising).

The key is to have a really fantastic premise and stick with it, consistently following the rules.

And, yes, the next *three* books in that series were terrible.

Posted by Jonathan Golob | May 15, 2008 11:28 AM

To be fair, the initial Dune trilogy probably has a claim to rising to the level of literature--time will tell.

But the corpse raping continuation of the series is just a way to keep cranking out the bucks. It's no different that having Fred Astaire dancing from beyond the grave with a Hoover vacuum cleaner.

Posted by Westside forever | May 15, 2008 11:33 AM

@7 Come now, is it really fair to corpse-rapers to lump them in with the authors of the Dune prequels?

Posted by Hedda Smythe-Von Greer | May 15, 2008 12:10 PM

Which is funnier -- Frank Herbert's son Brian raping his dad's literary heritage for a living, or Frank Sinatra's son Frank Jr. regurgitating astonishing quantities of trivia about every detail of his father's career on TMC?

Posted by Fnarf | May 15, 2008 12:51 PM

@ 7

"To be fair, the initial Dune trilogy probably has a claim to rising to the level of literature--time will tell."

The book Dune is really quite good and definitely qualifies, but there's no reason to read further in the trilogy. In my opinion Dune Messiah and Children of Dune are a lot closer to the "unreadable waste of perfectly good ink and pulp" end of the spectrum than they are to the "literature" end.

Posted by Bison | May 15, 2008 5:18 PM

Frank Herbert was once asked why he kept putting out more Dune books. His reply: "What would _you_ do if they offered you a million dollars?"

Posted by anonymous | May 15, 2008 9:46 PM

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